Show: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell Date: April 13, 2017 Guest: Malcolm Nance, David Frum, David Corn, Reuben Brigety
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: No extra funding to do this -- and helicopters until the president departs.
And that`s fine, except the coast guard is getting no extra funding to do this. Coast guards are already responsible for protecting a 100,000 miles of U.S. coastline and inland -- coastline and inland waterways.
In addition to its mission of saving American lives, an average of ten a day, now it does this very well with very little fanfare.
But the administration`s draft budget has called for cutting the coast guard budget by tens of billions of dollars.
They`ve called for a $54 billion increase in military spending. None of that is going to the coast guard, they`re cutting the coast guard by 14 percent.
The coast guard is going to see its budget cut. Even as it is now spending every weekend taking on the extra job of securing the president`s golf club.
Whether or not you are upset about the president`s travel costs, one thing you might be upset about is the lack of respect for the coast guard, even as they`re busy saving his bacon day in and day out.
All of our bacon, frankly, including the president`s while he golfs. That does it for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Good evening, Rachel. You know what`s coming next? Because you know the president was just watching that segment.
His next paycheck is going to the coast guard.
And there is going to be a coast guard guy standing there with that look on his face --
MADDOW: Not tonight --
O`DONNELL: Getting the check.
MADDOW: Yes, it`s exactly right.
O`DONNELL: For the 82,000 bucks.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence --
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel. Well, tonight, we will be joined by Jon Ossoff; the Democratic candidate for a vacant congressional seat in Georgia.
He has a huge lead tonight over the Republican in that race for a seat that has been held by Republicans for 38 years.
Also tonight, a new report that foreign intelligence agencies were the first to uncover contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.
And Nbc News reporting tonight that the Trump White House has a plan for a preemptive strike on North Korea.
But first, is there any non-propaganda reason for giving a bomb a nickname?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESTER HOLT, JOURNALIST: The U.S. has dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Its nickname, the Mother of All Bombs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were going after some ISIS course on province fighters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you authorize this?
TRUMP: Everybody knows exactly what happened. So -- and what I do is I authorized my military. We have given them total authorization.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was today`s bombing about defeating ISIS or flexing muscles?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does this send a message to North Korea?
TRUMP: I don`t know if this sends a message. It doesn`t make any difference if it does or not.
LEON PANETTA, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We`re dealing with a nuclear power nation. If we were to try to attack them, they would virtually wipe out Seoul.
TRUMP: North Korea is a problem, the problem will be taken care of.
MIKE POMPEO, DIRECTOR, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: It`s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is.
TRUMP: WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.
ROGER STONE, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: I reject the idea that Assange is a Russian asset.
CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: Do you understand why you`re a suspect?
STONE: No, I understand why I have been blamed. But there is no evidence.
TODD: Everything here was just happenstance?
STONE: Yes, absolutely.
EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: The irony of Roger Stone rejecting a conspiracy theory --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And so today, April 13th, 2017, was the day that America woke up to the sudden knowledge that bombs have mothers.
That all of the conventional non-nuclear bombs in the American military arsenal have one big beautiful mother.
And there she is. The bomb`s official name for book-keeping purposes in the military is the GBU-43. The letters on the side of the bomb describe its function, what you can expect from it -- massive ordinance air blast.
But the military doesn`t want us to call it the GBU-43 or the MOAB. Names are important to the military.
They name their bases after war heroes, after generals, including generals who have committed treason by fighting in the confederate army against the United States of America.
The biggest U.S. military base in the world, the one with the biggest military population is in Fort Hood in Texas, named after treasonous confederate General John Bell Hood.
But the military`s most important names, the names that are designed to deliver a message sometimes subliminal, sometimes very direct are the names of weapons.
The military`s best names for weapons humanize the weapons. That is what they are intended to do. The GBU-43, the biggest non-nuclear bomb the United States has never, ever used until today, April 13th, 2017.
The GBU-43 had to wait years for its first use. During the Bush administration, it replaced the BLU-82, which until then was our biggest bomb.
The BLU-82 was used frequently in Vietnam, the military`s name for it was the Daisy Cutter. Not the baby killer, not the family killer, not the village killer, the Daisy Cutter.
The military`s nicknames for bombs are designed to do two things. Impress you with something about the bomb.
Its precision, its power, its enormity, but the best military names for weapons and bombs are designed to inspire awe and affection.
And so the bomb that the Bush and Obama administration refused to use and has now been used by the Trump administration is called the Mother of All Bombs.
When the president was asked today about using that bomb for the first time in history, it sounded like he did not personally authorize the use of the bomb in that instance.
It sounded like he had perhaps given a general authorization to the Defense Secretary Mattis to use whatever weapon he decided was right for the mission.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you authorize it, sir?
TRUMP: Everybody knows exactly what happened. So -- and what I do is I authorize my military. We have the greatest military in the world and they`ve done a job as usual.
So, we have given them total authorization. And that`s what they`re doing. And frankly, that`s why they`ve been so successful lately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The president got glowing reviews last week from most of the media in his first use of tomahawk missiles.
The reviews on his use of the military`s most destructive non-nuclear bomb will have to wait until there are at least initial reports on the number of civilian casualties if any, and what tactical gain was achieved by the GBU- 43.
Now to the news that Donald Trump cannot bomb away, "The Guardian" is reporting that British Intelligence first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious interactions between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents.
This intelligence was passed to the U.S. as part of a routine exchange of information. Sources also told the paper that over the next six months until the Summer of 2016, a number of western agencies shared further information on contacts between Trump`s inner circle and Russians.
The European countries that passed on electronic intelligence included Germany, Estonia and Poland. According to "The Guardian", the alleged conversations were picked up by chance as part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets.
At no point was British intelligence carrying out an operation against Donald Trump or his campaign. Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page who was the subject of a foreign intelligence surveillance court warrant last Summer said this morning that he may have discussed lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia during a trip to Moscow last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, JOURNALIST: It sounds like from what you`re saying is possible that you may have discussed the easing of sanctions.
CARTER PAGE, FORMER ADVISER TO DONALD TRUMP: Something may have come up in a conversation -- I have no recollection, and there is nothing specifically that I would have done that would have given people that impression, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you can`t say without equivocation that you didn`t discuss the easing of sanctions?
PAGE: Someone may have brought it up, I have no recollection. And if it did -- was, it was not something I was offering or someone was -- that someone was asking for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: President Trump`s CIA Director Mike Pompeo said this today about WikiLeaks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POMPEO: As long as they make a splash, they care nothing about the lives they put at risk or the damage they cause to national security.
WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service. It`s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is.
A non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And here is what his boss, the president of the United States has had to say about WikiLeaks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Now, this just came out. This just came out. WikiLeaks -- I love WikiLeaks.
Boy, that WikiLeaks has done a job on her, hasn`t it? This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Malcolm Nance; Msnbc counterterrorism and intelligence analyst. David Corn; Washington Bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and an Msnbc political analyst.
And David Frum; senior editor for "The Atlantic". Malcolm, quickly, I just wanted to talk about the massive bomb that was dropped today and your interpretation of its use and what you think it might have been able to achieve in that usage.
MALCOLM NANCE, MEDIA COMMENTATOR ON INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM, INTELLIGENCE, INSURGENCY & TORTURE: Well, the GBU-43 is really just an area destruction device. It`s designed to make a big blast over pressure, a lot of earth quaking, knock down tunnels, destroy people and materials that are out in the field.
It`s just another bomb. And I think people are sort of looking over the fact that it was dropped in a combat zone. A B-52 carrying, you know, 32 JDAM bombs could have caused much more devastation with much more precision.
The Air Force wanted to use this device, and they did.
O`DONNELL: David Frum, the reports today that it wasn`t just the British who were picking up something involving Trump world and the Russians. Estonia, Poland -- it sounds like there was a lot to pick up.
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: And the Poles have particularly sophisticated intelligence service, and have been very -- they`ve been very interested above all in the Ukraine case.
Poland and Ukraine are neighbors with deep historical relationships. Poland maintains many more consulates in Ukraine than the United States does, and it knows a lot about the career of Paul Manafort.
And that name would ring some very noisy alarm bells in Warsaw.
O`DONNELL: David Corn, the way the -- we just heard the CIA director talk about WikiLeaks compared to the way the president has talked about WikiLeaks.
It`s another one of those moments where you see that at least in the instance of his choice for CIA director, there is no inhibition about saying things today -- I mean you have to know if you were the CIA director and you anticipate other human beings` reactions to things, you had to know that I and others were going to put those two hunks of video together tonight that what he had to say today about WikiLeaks and what Donald Trump said about WikiLeaks during the campaign.
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Well, it`s all very head-spinning. Because during the campaign Pompeo himself was putting forward on his Twitter feed and his campaign account information coming from WikiLeaks.
So by his own definition, he and the guy he works for who happens to be the president of the United States were in league with the WikiLeaks operation which was of course his own predecessor says was part of a Russian clandestine operation to subvert the American election.
So if you really start thinking about what he says, it is mind-blowing -- and you know what? Maybe we should have a congressional -- investigate -- I don`t know -- I don`t that`s crazy talk.
But nevertheless, it is so absurd that, you know, because at the same time Donald Trump still says this is all a hoax.
O`DONNELL: Malcolm Nance, you`ve literally written -- literally the book about this, about the Russian influence in this election and what they were up to. Just give us your assessment about the last 24 hours of new information.
NANCE: Well, I`m afraid to say this is what separates intelligence officers from journalists, you know, I wrote this almost seven months ago now.
That if you were ever going to get a scoop with relation to information coming out about the Trump administration`s activities related to foreign intelligence, it was going to come from a foreign intelligence agency.
Pretty sure that I said Estonia would be the first one because as we learned, they have very close ties with the United States and other allied nations.
And they`re very good at certain types of special intelligence. That`s what we call signals intelligence.
And our sister agency GCHQ and DGSC in France, they have a vested interest in knowing what`s going on there.
On the other hand, it was very surprising to finally hear Mike Pompeo come out and declare WikiLeaks a non-state hostile intelligence agency.
I wrote a whole chapter in my book about how WikiLeaks was a non-state intelligence agency and a hellion(ph) subsidiary of Russian intelligence, the FSB.
That being said, it`s going to be fascinating for anyone who now has been found to cooperate with WikiLeaks.
Because this is essentially him verbalizing in an unclassified setting, an intelligence finding that they were in league, not only with Russian intelligence perhaps by extension, but now a designated non-state hostile intelligence agency.
It`s going to make for some very interesting congressional investigations and trials.
FRUM: There are people in the Trump administration, Pompeo and Tillerson who are trying to go legit, as you used to say with actors who move from one country to another kind of work.
And they are trying to hem the president in. And one of the interesting questions, and we`ll be studying this in political science for a long time is, can you hem in the president?
Can you remove the president`s authority and agency? Because there is this group of now Pompeo, now Tillerson before that Mattis, before that McMaster who want to encourage the president to golf more and watch more television and let them run the government.
In other circumstances, that would look like a rather sinister thing. In this circumstance, it may look like the second best option.
O`DONNELL: And David Corn -- go ahead, David.
CORN: I just want to say the question is, can they really wipe off the stench of Donald Trump`s campaign? And if not the collusion encouraging this Putin operation to subvert American democracy.
I mean, they all admit that it happened. Tillerson has admitted it. Nikki Haley has admitted it, Mike Pompeo, he said it today while the president keeps denying that anything of the sort happened.
And Roger Stone is out there pushing conspiracy theories on this network and others. And so, can they kind of act as if they`re legitimate even when they`re working for a fellow who denies the original sin of this administration and he still continues to say things that make no sense?
FRUM: I think the answer to that, David, would be from a moral point of view, maybe not, from a practical point of view, everybody has to be less fussy.
O`DONNELL: Malcolm Nance, isn`t it a question of what are they saying from this point forward? I mean, when you look at what Tillerson was saying the week before the chemical attack in Syria, he seemed like he hadn`t even found his way around the office yet and didn`t have the vaguest idea what a reasonable talking point sounded like on Syria.
Saying he was going to leave it to, what? The Democratic expression of the Syrian people, what would happen to Assad.
Everything he has said since the chemical attack has been a strong statement about both Syria and the Russian involvement in that, including him speculating that Russia could possibly have known about it before the fact.
So it is one of those things where like with Pompeo today, you pick a spot and you say we`re going to start watching him from here forward and see what he does?
NANCE: Well, yes, because prior to last week, things were pretty rudderless in the White House. And that rudderlessness came from the, you know, the palace intrigue that was going on between Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon, Donald Trump jumping in both feet in certain things.
But now you have General McMaster and you have the Secretary of Defense Mattis giving strong indications that there has to be a certain way.
Most interestingly is Nikki Haley as U.N. ambassador has been far ahead of even McMaster and Mattis in the strength of her statements about Russia and Syria.
And so now it appears that it`s coming together at least on these two points, even though as I contend, the attack on Syria was a complete wash.
I mean, we didn`t destroy anything. We didn`t destroy chemical weapons. We just showed that we knew how to turn the key and launch cruise missiles.
So I think that the White House in some respects is coming together. And if these threats and statements about North Korea are true, as we`re going to talk about a little later, they had better get their acts together.
Because this is the sort of talk that will bring this nation into war or to a crisis that will, you know, resemble the paces to war.
O`DONNELL: David, when you talk about hemming in a president, that has been done in the past in a more subtle way. It`s just the advisors (AUDIO GAP 13:05-06) in the areas of defense, whatever it was would present a set of possibilities.
Only one of which looked possible and the others just weren`t. And so that was always the traditional way if the advisors were trying to hem in the president.
FRUM: Well, it is a more extreme way, which you`ll remember the history, James Schlesinger in the last days of Watergate telling the nuclear command --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
FRUM: By the way --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
FRUM: I`m putting myself as Secretary of Defense into the nuclear command. If you got any funny orders from the president, just run them past me --
O`DONNELL: This was when -- this was when President Nixon was up late at night in the White House drunk and approaching --
FRUM: Taking pills, yes --
O`DONNELL: Approaching the point of being forced to resign. His Secretary of Defense said don`t take any nuclear orders from him in the middle of the night.
FRUM: Right, unless you cleared them --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
FRUM: With me. So presidents can be hemmed in. The question is, how many weeks did that take -- did that occur over?
O`DONNELL: Yes, very relatively short period of time.
FRUM: Can you do it over four years? Probably not. In the end, the president fires all of these people.
And one of the things that Donald Trump`s displayed is, and he has done it now to his White House staff, Steve Bannon and others, he doesn`t like it when anyone near him gets too big.
And right now Mattis is very big, and Tillerson is getting bigger and Nikki Haley in particular is getting very big.
How will the president feel about that tomorrow, next week, the week after that.
O`DONNELL: David Corn, isn`t that a matter of how "Saturday Night Live" treats it? If "Saturday Night Live" says Nikki Haley is the brains of the - -
CORN: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Trump White House, and then that`s when the clock starts ticking?
CORN: Yes, so, I would amend David`s astute observation. It`s not how people around Donald Trump getting big.
It`s how it`s portrayed and perceived. And because that`s really how he views the world. He views the world and how the world is viewing him.
The reality doesn`t matter as much. And if we talk about hemming in and McMaster is getting his hands around the National Security Council and Mattis being adult, we see -- and Malcolm alluded to this too.
That it only takes Trump seven seconds to say something or even less seconds to tweet something about North Korea or something else that can be incredibly destabilizing.
So, you can hem in a guy to a certain degree, but when he`s up at 6:00 in the morning, I don`t think Mattis or McMaster or even his wife are looking over his shoulders. So there still is a lot of instability there.
FRUM: Should Nbc have like some kind of corporate ethics officer in the "Saturday Night Live" writings room saying please --
O`DONNELL: No --
FRUM: Don`t say anything about Nikki Haley overnight --
O`DONNELL: No, no corporate interference there.
FRUM: But maybe like for the sake of the country they should --
O`DONNELL: Right --
FRUM: But we don`t want those jokes.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to leave it --
CORN: They`re all patriots at "SNL", they`re all patriots.
O`DONNELL: That`s correct, they`re right upstairs. David Frum, great to have you in the --
FRUM: Thank you --
O`DONNELL: Studio for change --
Here in New York, a pleasure. David Corn, Malcolm Nance, we`re going to need you later.
Coming up, Nbc News exclusive reporting that the Trump White House has a plan for a preemptive strike on North Korea.
And the Democratic candidate in Georgia in that special election for a House seat has a huge lead in the polls. That`s a seat that has been Republican for 38 years.
That candidate is going to join us later.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last few days we`ve seen a number of policy shifts by the president. What should the American people make of these shifts?
And are there any policy areas that are not negotiable?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think, you know, respectfully, I think you can look at it what you`re referring to as a shift in a lot of ways.
If you look at what`s happened, it`s those entities or individuals in some cases or issues evolving towards the president`s position.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Trump, how about that bomb, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you authorize the bomb in Afghanistan?
TRUMP: Very proud of the people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
TRUMP: I know it`s really another successful job. We`re very proud of our military.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
TRUMP: Just like we`re proud of the folks in this room. We are so proud of our military and it was another successful event.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Reuben Brigety; former ambassador to the African Union and deputy assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.
Back with us, David Corn. Ambassador Brigety, I want to get your reaction to the use of this bomb today.
You`ve studied the aftermath of bombings, especially as it affects civilian casualties and other unintended consequences.
What do you expect to find when we finally see the results of this bomb?
REUBEN BRIGETY, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR AFRICAN AFFAIRS: Well, Lawrence, the first question is what was the target and why was the target necessary to be attacked with this particular weapon?
And then the second question is what was the calculus that the military made with the regard to the potential impact of civilians in that area?
The GBU-43, the so-called Mother of All Bombs is an 11-ton weapon that has blast effects that go well beyond a mile.
And it`s frankly hard to imagine a circumstance on which you could drop a weapon like that without having any consequences whatsoever on civilians.
So I am very interested in asking the questions about what exactly was the target, and how did the military make the calculation that attacking that target would be worth whatever potential impact it would be on civilians.
O`DONNELL: And ambassador, do you sense that there -- in the decision to use this particular bomb, that there was an intent to deliver a message with it that this bomb delivers because Malcolm Nance had told -- has mentioned in the previous segment that you could have done the same destructive work with other devices.
BRIGETY: Well, there could -- certainly could be some sort of signaling or psychological impact on what the use of that weapon.
Although one would expect that, that desired effect would have been taken in the decision if that were the case, would have been taken at a higher level.
Could be there were a particular aspects about the contours of the target that were being attacked because that`s a problem. We don`t know.
For an unprecedented use of a weapon like this, there are certainly more questions than answers.
And as they say, asking the question what exactly was a target that justified this kind of weapon is something that I think we simply need to have a response about.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said when this bomb was first being brought online for the military and first being tested, he was asked about this new bomb. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a psychological component to this massive new bomb?
DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: There is a psychological component to all aspects of warfare. The goal is to not have a war.
The goal is to have the pressure be so great that Saddam Hussein cooperates. Short of that, an unwillingness to cooperate, the goal is to have the capabilities of the coalition so clear and so obvious that there is an enormous disincentive for the Iraqi military to fight against the coalition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: David Corn, the bomb was available to the Bush administration, it was available to the Obama administration every day.
They chose never to use it. And we have yet to find out exactly what went into the decision for the Trump administration to use it, and whether the president even knew that it was being used before it was used.
CORN: Let`s start with the principle, the assumption that the people who were bombed know they were bombed.
And so nothing that happened is a secret to them. They know where they were, they know what happened.
And so I think the American public is now owed similar information. As the ambassador said, what was the intended target, and did it hit the intended target?
Why was this weapon needed when other alternatives were not used? And what -- you know, what can we learn about civilian casualties and collateral damage as they euphemistically call it.
So, using -- you know, I understand the dropping X number of other weapons might have caused the same impact.
And so this one weapon, we can get maybe overly overwrought about it. But I still think since they used it for the first time, that it`s -- these questions should be answered.
And I don`t see any reason why the American public can`t get these very simple answers.
O`DONNELL: It`s a $15 million bomb. So that`s what they dropped from that plane, it was 15 million.
Ambassador Brigety, why did the Bush administration, the Obama administration decide to never use that bomb?
BRIGETY: There could be any number of reasons. I mean, one might be that frankly that particular tactical circumstances never presented themselves.
And by that, I mean, to be able to use a weapon that is -- that has that kind of blast radius, you would have do to be very confident of one or two things.
Either that there would be virtually no civilians that would be impacted by the blast or that the target that you were attacking was of such profound military value that it would justify the sorts of civilian casualties that would result so one could be that neither the Bush Administration nor the Obama Administration ever found themselves in that particular sort of circumstances.
Another could be that frankly, the weapon that is that large, it`s hard to imagine environments short of dropping it on the moon that you would like not be likely to impact civilians. And frankly, what we may be seeing is frankly a very different set of calculi that are being taken by the Trump Administration as it relates to potential impact for civilian casualties and the willingness they`re prepared to give to the military commanders to have those sorts of flexibility of decision making on the ground.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC NEWS ANCHOR: Ambassador one mote thing before we squeeze in a break here. How long will it take to get the after action report on this bomb?
BRIGETY: It depends. It depends on how much access U.S. and Coalition Forces have to the area, whether there is a permissive environment that will allow that. Frankly, it also depends on whether or not other hostile forces take their own crews in to make videos of potential civilian casualties for their own propaganda efforts. So we`ll have to wait and see.
O`DONNELL: We`ll leave there it for tonight. David Corn, thank you very much for joining us. Ambassador Brigety, we`re going to need you for one more segment here.
oming up, the reporting that the president trump administration has a plan for preemptive attack on North Korea. But every administration has such an attack plan, has had such an attack plan on North Korea. Will this one be used?
O`DONNELL: Our breaking news tonight. NBC News is reporting that the Trump Administration has a war plan for a preemptive nonnuclear strike of North Korea if they believe North Korea is about to test a nuclear weapon. Back with us, Ambassador Reuben Brigety is back along with Malcolm Nance. Malcolm, my understanding is the defense Department has a war plan for many, many, many countries, most countries, that they are on shelves, they`re revised every several years. And of course 99.9 percent of them are never used.
What would be different about this, about the trump administration having this plan? Is it the fact that what NBC has picked up is the conditions under which the Trump Administration would be willing to use that plan?
Malcolm Nance, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it`s quite possible that now that the conditions have changed, North Korea may in fact be either planning an atomic detonation, or some sort of surprise with regards to their intercontinental ballistic testing machine. Just in case. the problem here with the Trump Administration is over the last two weeks they`ve used phrases from the Secretary of State himself like imminent threat. North Korea being an imminent treat.
Those words and phrases like President Trump had tweeted that, you know, if China doesn`t help us, we will go it alone. Those words resonate. not just to the North Koreans but to everyone in the entire region that maybe this time the war plan the United States has is something that they`re taking very seriously, and that they tend to intimidate north Korea. North Korea doesn`t intimidate very well, and that these words could have very, very serious dramatic action.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Former Obama CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said about this tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEON PANETTA. FMR CIA DIRECTOR: There are no good options here. If we were to try to attack them, they would virtually wipe out Seoul. And if it became a nuclear war, which is likely, millions of lives would be lost. And that`s the reason we haven`t pulled the trigger.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Ambassador Brigety, is it possible, is there another possibility that if a weapons system was attacked in North Korea from The United States, that North Korea would simply take the hit, that they would just absorb the hit and not attack South Korea?
BRIGETY: I have never heard of any analyst that follows the region that thinks that`s a possibility. We have is a very mercurial regime in Pyongyang, particularly under this younger ruler Kim Jong Un, who has not only demonstrated his willingness to show belligerence through missile tests or what not. But also frankly has shown willing to kill his own kin, as we saw by a successful assassination attempt by his half-brother in Kuala Lumpur just two months ago.
So for me what I most worried about the situation is that frankly have uncertainty on the leadership on both sides of this equation, uncertainty with the leadership Of Kim Jong Un. And frankly, and respectfully uncertainty in regard to President Trump who has demonstrated the ability to change 180 degrees, whether it be Syria, on China, with regard to the irrelevance of NATO, his view on profound pillars of the international system. And that level of uncertainty on both sides of the equation is what is new in this particular circumstance, and frankly, what is so disconcerting.
O`DONNELL: Malcolm Nance, if you war game this out for the president, he takes a preemptive strike against North Korea. You have to then war game for the president what North Korea is going to do. would there be anyone war gaming that in the pentagon or in the Whitehouse with any credibility saying that no South Koreans would then be killed by North Korea?
NANCE: Well, yes. We`ve been red teaming this, war gaming this since 1953. And in every scenario, like the Ambassador said, North Korea, you know, they have this proclivity towards moving to the extreme and for them sinking a vessel, coming out, you know, interdicting commercial and naval traffic throughout the Sea of Japan, or launching thousands of rockets into South Korea.
That`s the way that they red this game. They understand and they know that America knows that the only options here when given this, and this is why Leon Panetta was so distraught in his words is that they have the option of creating massive numbers of casualties. In South Korea, whether it`s going out and engaging on a military force. But let me tell you, one last thing and, you know, this isn`t my usual area of expertise. You know, in the Western Pacific.
However, there is one thing that I do know. North Korea is so dug in with their weapon systems since the Korean war, since 1953 when it ended that the only way you`re going to get rid of that nuclear program is to burn it out with a nuclear bomb. And we are not going to carry out that type of attack. North Korea now has demonstrated atomic weapons systems.
And then we don`t know how their delivery systems or whether they`ve been perfected. And they don`t have to be perfected. They can put it out on a trawler in the Sea of Japan and detonate it and make things very unpleasant for Japan and South Korea. It`s something we shouldn`t even be discussing is now being discussed.
O`DONNELL: We`re going have to leave it there for tonight. Malcolm Nance gets the last word. Ambassador Brigety and Malcolm Nance, thank you both for join us, really appreciate it.
NANCE: It`s a pleasure.
BRIGETY: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up the Democrats big chance to grab a Congressional seat away from the Republicans is coming up on Tuesday in Georgia. Democrat Jon Ossoff has a big lead in that race. And he will join us next.
O`DONNELL: In the next special election for a vacant Congressional Seat, which is going to be in Georgia, the Democrat has a 31-point lead over his closest Republican challenger. Tom Price vacated the seat to join the Trump cabinet. In November, price won that seat by 24 points. Donald trump won the district by just one point. Tonight Jon Ossoff is running at 43 percent in the polls. His closest challenger is at 12 percent.
The top two finishers will face each other in a runoff election, unless one of the candidates gets over 50 percent of the vote. The district is in suburban Atlanta. It has been a republican district for 38 years. This used to be Newt Gingrich`s district. The leading republican candidate is Karen Handel, who used to be vice president of the Komen foundation.
She resigned from the foundation after she urged them to cut off grants to Planned Parenthood. Today at an event closed to the press, president Trump quietly rolled back protections for Planned Parenthood, signing a bill that will allow states and local governments to withhold federal money to Planned Parenthood. Democrat Jon Ossoff joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Flake, why it is that in Germany we have had a universal health care system since -- wait a minute. Since 1871. We have had a health.
JEFF FLAKE, UNITED STATES SENATOR: The majority of constituents that I speak with support a single payer system. My question is will you represent the people of Arizona and support single payer, or are you going to continue to represent the health insurance industry?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, My Question Is when are you going to choose your country over your party?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That`s republican senator Jeff Flake at a town hall meeting in Mesa, Arizona tonight. It is still happening. That`s a live image of what`s going on there right now. We are joined now by Jon Ossoff.
A candidate for congress in Georgia`s sixth district this. Mr. Ossoff this district has been republican for 38 years. It was Newt Gingrich`s district. Tom Price had an easy re-election there. But the striking thing is that Donald Trump won the district by only one point. What happened there, how did Tom price win by over 20, Donald Trump in the same ballot. The presidential candidate took it by only one.
JON OSSOFF, CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS: Good evening Lawrence. Thank you for having me. This community where I grew up is a moderate pragmatic district. Economically minded, I thin it recognizes that extremism is bad for business. It wants effective principled leadership.
Doesn`t identify as partisan or idea logical, I think that`s why the president has some difficulty here and why I`m building a coalition that includes republicans and independents as well as democrats by focusing on local economic development and shared values in the community that bring people together.
O`DONNELL: How much of an issue has the republican repeal of the affordable care act -- how much has that been an issue in your district?
OSSOFF: Well it was of major concern. You are talking about a proposal to throw 24 million people off of their health insurance back into the emergency room at taxpayer expense when they`re already acutely ill? It also would have gutted the Georgia based centers for disease control and prevention which provides pandemic prevention and health security infrastructure to the whole country.
It was an unpopular bill here. And so, too as today`s closed door signing of a bill attacking family planning and reproductive health been greeted with concern and opposition in this district.
O`DONNELL: There has been a lot of outside help for you in this campaign. And the funding is obviously surprising everyone. It is a massive amount of funding for a congressional campaign. Were you surprised that you were able to attract that much campaign help?
OSSOFF: Well it has taken on a bit of a life of its own. I`m proud of the fact that it`s small dollar grassroots fund raising. The average contribution to my campaign is $42. And when you`ve got unaccountable super pacs from Washington coming in with the same old cynical partisan attacks on candidates like me who are standing up for anti-corruption, for a change in Washington.
It`s necessary to raise significant resource to fight back. I`m glad it`s been grassroots fund raising and I have the resources now to fight back.
O`DONNELL: And what is the schedule on a runoff if you don`t get 50 percent on Tuesday night?
OSSOFF: If no one clears 50 percent on Tuesday. Then runoff will be on June 20th. The early voting numbers and are internal pollings suggest that an outright win on Tuesday is possible. Either way we will be ready to fight and win if there is a runoff.
O`DONNELL: So in your strategy, do you have to hold some of your financial resources for that possible runoff and not go all out on advertising spending between now and Tuesday?
OSSOFF: We are doubling down right now on a win on Tuesday, because it is within reach. The grassroots intensity in Georgia is unlike anything that I`ve seen in this community before. There are thousands of volunteers knocking on doors and making phone calls. It`s a hopeful and inspiring scene here in Georgia. Folks in the community are really standing up.
It`s a broad coalition ready for some fresh leadership and I think we have a great shot on Tuesday evening of an outright win.
O`DONNELL: This was not one those campaigns that you could plan, that you could look out two years out and say I think I`m going to go for that seat. This suddenly came up because there was suddenly a vacancy, Donald Trump surprises the world, wins the election, and then - then chooses your congressman for his cabinet.
When did you decide to make a run for this seat?
OSSOFF: Well, after the presidential election, I began to think about whether I needed to get more involved directly now. I asked myself if not now, when? When I learned that my hometown congressman was vacating I started looking at the race. The moment I really set my heart on it was after a meeting with Congressman John Lewis. He`s been a mentor of mine since I first worked for him when I was 17 years old.
He told me I should run and that he would endorse me if I did and I walked out of that meeting with my mind made up.
O`DONNELL: John Ossoff, democratic candidate for Georgia`s sixth congressional district. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
OSSOFF: Thank you for having me, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Donald Trump versus Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: And now for the good news, the wicked good news, the last word has a new viewer, Ruth Ann Kramer arrived at 12:41 this afternoon. Her mother Joanne Denyeau is one of our producers. Ruth Ann joins big brother Joey who made his Last Word debut in August of 2015. Ruth Ann is the seventh baby born to the Last Word staff since this program was launched only six and a half years ago.
More than one baby per year, get some sleep, Joanne.
O`DONNELL: And now for tonight`s episode of Donald Trump versus Donald Trump. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what you are saying is Assad can stay in power. That`s not your interest.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No what I`m saying is we have bigger problems than Assad.
TRUMP: Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the air field in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. I`m going to instruct my treasury secretary to label China a currency manipulator, the greatest in the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In an interview with the "Wall Street Journal" Mr. Trump said his administration won`t label China a currency manipulator in a report due this week.
TRUMP: I`m right about NATO. We have NATO and we are giving countries a free ride. We are really -- NATO is -- is obsolete. It`s old, it`s fat. It`s sloppy. And we are -- and it doesn`t talk about terrorism. The secretary general and I had a productive discussion about what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism. I said it was obsolete.
It`s no longer obsolete. When a see a story about Donald Trump didn`t fill hundreds and hundreds of jobs, that`s because in many cases we don`t want to fill those jobs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have 600 open jobs though that you could appoint. What`s going on?
TRUMP: Well, a lot of those jobs they don`t want to appoint, because they`re unnecessary to have.
I am waiting right now for so many people -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re understaffed.
TRUMP: -- hundreds and hundreds of people. And then they`ll say, Why isn`t trump doing this faster? You can`t do it faster, because they`re obstructing, they`re obstructionists. So I have people - hundreds of people -- that we`re trying to get through.
O`DONNELL: Did I just hear Donald Trump say NATO is old, it`s fat, it`s sloppy? Good thing he lives in the White House, instead of - go ahead, fill in the blank - a glass house.
THE 11TH HOUR with Brian Williams starts right now.
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